Your 10-Step Checklist for Men's Health
By Jeffrey Pinto, DO, Primary Care Physician, Virtua Primary Care - Medford
A lot of men would rather mow the lawn or clean the house instead of going to the doctor. Some guys are embarrassed to talk about certain issues, or fear a negative diagnosis.
But being proactive about your health—like getting an annual wellness exam—can keep you healthy now and prevent problems down the road.
How many can you check off this year?
- Regular exercise. Get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Mix in strength training to maintain muscle mass.
- Eat a Mediterranean-style diet. Best for heart health, this diet focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while staying away from red meat and high-fat foods.
- Get an annual checkup. Your health care provider will help you stay up-to-date with immunizations and screenings, and correct issues before they become serious.
- Stay current on your vaccinations. Be sure to get your flu shot every year, and follow recommendations on COVID-19, tetanus, and whooping cough boosters. Get a shingles vaccine at age 50, and a pneumococcal vaccine at 65.
- Watch your blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked regularly beginning at age 20. Your ideal blood pressure should be lower than 120/80 mmHg. Avoid salty foods, watch your weight, and manage stress to help lower it and reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease.
- Control cholesterol. Have a fasting cholesterol test every four to six years starting at age 20, or more frequently depending on your risk factors. Lifestyle changes and medication can reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Keep an eye on blood glucose. High blood sugar levels put you at risk for diabetes. Begin testing every three years at age 45, or earlier if you have certain risk factors.
- Get a colonoscopy. Get a colonoscopy starting at age 45. You can have colorectal cancer and not know it, so locating and removing polyps before they grow and potentially became cancerous is important.
- Consider a PSA. Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among American men. Talk with your health care provider about getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and a digital rectal exam.
- Don’t ignore your feelings. It’s OK not to feel OK. Reach out to a mental health specialist for help.
Your health deserves to be on the front burner. Make it a priority.
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Updated April 10, 2023